In new Newport News capital plan, Tech Center research park still most costly city project

Theresa Clift
Contact Reportertclift@dailypress.com
Planned city funding for Tech Center research park, possible Jlab expansion hits $36.6M

The Tech Center research park remains the project receiving the most city funding in the city's new recommended five-year capital improvement plan released Tuesday.

Under the plan, city funding would increase to $36,650,000 to accommodate the Tech Center research park near the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Road and a potential Jefferson Lab expansion. The work includes moving the school division's bus facility, extending Hogan Drive and other infrastructure work done in fiscal years 2016 through 2021.

In the new plan, $1.8 million in city funding and $4.4 million in grant funding was added for the project in fiscal years 2019 through 2021, bringing the total of grant funds expected for the project to $12,150,000.

In the $340.6 million general-fund supported five-year capital plan, the city expects to fund about $150 million with city bonds, $47 million with cash capital, $135 million with grants and $8 million from other sources, like developers.

"It's mostly maintaining what we have," Budget Director Lisa Cipriano said. "We have a lot of old buildings and aging infrastructure. The recession limited funding on taking care of what we have."

The new plan adds $6.2 million in city funds to be available for transportation projects for state and federal matches. Those projects include Atkinson Boulevard to connect Jefferson Avenue and Warwick Boulevard north of Richneck Road, lower Jefferson Avenue streetscaping, new city sidewalks and ramps, and extensions of Habersham and Hogan drives.

The plan includes increased and earlier funding for the Chesapeake Avenue bike trail in the Southeast Community – something South District Councilwomen Tina Vick and Saundra Cherry have been asking for. The plan includes $1 million for that project — $800,000 of that in grants — during fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

The city also added money toward Hampton Roads Transit's efforts to develop a bus rapid transit corridor in Newport News and Hampton. The $350,000 in city money and $250,000 expected in grant funding will go toward preliminary engineering, grant applications and other planning that will come after the corridor study is completed about a year from now, City Manager Jim Bourey said. More funding is expected in future capital plans for the project.

The $4 million to renovate the aging Cardinal Course at Newport News park – a project that has been pushed back since the recession – remained to be spent in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, with work to start on the Championship Course expected to begin in 2022.

In January, the council will vote on whether to adopt the projects for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, and the city will seek bond authorizations for them. As the bond authorizations come in, the projects will come back to the council individually for approval.

Here are some other notable projects in the proposed capital plan. All will be spent over the next five years unless otherwise noted.

•$5.2 million for the new Virgil I. Grissom Library was added in fiscal year 2021, bringing the total to $12 million, starting in fiscal year 2019

Funding for City Hall renovations increased by $300,000 to total $1 million spent in fiscal years 2018 and 2020.

•$195,000 for Huntington Park Tennis Center stadium court, to be spent in fiscal year 2019.

•$2,919,000 to create Stoney Run Park on an old landfill remained in fiscal years 2018 through 2021.

•$8.3 million to be spent for the next phase of the Denbigh Community Center, including a pool, remained to be spent in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

•$9.56 million for Southeast Community redevelopment.

•$4.7 million for downtown initiatives.

•$2.5 million for Denbigh-area and upper Warwick Boulevard improvements.

•$44,355,722 – including $40,780,722 in grants – to create Atkinson Boulevard.

•$31 million in grant funding for the transportation center, to total $38 million.

Here are some projects added to the proposed capital plan:

•$1 million in grants for pedestrian improvements at traffic signals citywide in fiscal years 2018 through 2020.

•$900,000 in grants for traffic signal timing improvements in fiscal years 2017 through 2019.

•$300,000 for a Warwicktowne archaeological study at Riverview Farm Park and City Farm.

•$600,000 in fiscal years 2018 and 2021 for boat ramp and marina dredging at Peterson's Yacht Basin, Leeward Marina and Huntington Park.

•$990,000 in fiscal year 2021 for replacements of the Deer Park ranger station and restrooms.

•$896,000 for kitchen renovations at the City Jail in fiscal year 2020.

In other business, the council agreed to fund up to $38,340 to LINK of Hampton Roads for its emergency winter shelter program, if the nonprofit needs it.

The council also agreed to hear a presentation from Youth Challenge of Hampton Roads as it continues to decide whether to grant tax exemption to three of the nonprofit's buildings.

Clift can be reached by phone at 757-247-7870.

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